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Roansy Contreras: Champ or Chump for Fantasy Baseball

Roansy Contreras fantasy baseball rankings MLB prospects draft sleepers waiver wire pickups

The next big prospect in fantasy land comes by way of Pittsburgh, as the Pirates are summoning 22-year-old Roansy Contreras to join their rotation. He has already logged MLB time this season with a 3.52 ERA and 10 punchouts over 7 2/3 IP of relief work, but the role wasn't conducive to fantasy value. He was demoted especially to stretch out his arm, allowing him to be a solid rotation member moving forward.

That's exciting for fantasy managers because he has electric stuff. Contreras is the 70th prospect in the sport per MLB Pipeline and 42nd per FanGraphs, giving him a solid prospect pedigree. He gained velocity at the spring training complex in 2020, putting up solid MiLB numbers ever since as well.

That said, wins could be tough to come by on the lowly Pirates even if he pitches great, and learning curves are always possible with arms this young. So, let's take a deep dive into his profile and see if we can't come up with a realistic projection for what he might accomplish in 2022.

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The Roansy Contreras Scouting Report

Contreras is the rare prospect whose present and future grades on his FanGraphs scouting report are identical in all of the areas that matter. His fastball and curve are both a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with his slider only slightly behind at 55. All three are above-average, which should play nicely with 50 command. His change grades out as a 30 today and a 40 in the future, both of which are solidly below average. As such, he looks like a three-pitch pitcher.


Roansy Contreras on the Farm

Contreras didn't break into the high minors until after his 2020 velocity spike and missed two months with a right forearm strain last season, so we don't have a huge sample size to work with here. Still, what we have gives us a strong indication of his fantasy upside as well as where the downside might be. Contreras pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 2.93 xFIP over 54 1/3 IP for Double-A (Altoona) last season, pairing a 34.9 K% with a 5.5 BB% for an excellent 29.4 K-BB%. He also did a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground with a 47.5 GB%, and his flies didn't really hurt him with a 10.4% HR/FB.

That last number may be a mirage, however, as Double-A Altoona had a HR factor of just 73 from 2017 to 2019. The park's hit factor of 94 was more fair but still skewed pitcher. Furthermore, the former Eastern League had a reputation as one of the most pitcher-friendly environments in MiLB, with only Reading standing out as a hitter's park. As such, Contreras was pitching in a pitcher-friendly park nearly 100% of the time.

Contreras logged 3 2/3 IP for Triple-A (Indianapolis) and one three-inning stint in Pittsburgh to close out his season last year, but neither is a large enough sample to do much with. So, we'll skip to his 2022 performance in Indianapolis: 2.66 ERA and 4.02 xFIP over 20 1/3 IP with a 28.9 K% and 13.3 BB%. The strikeouts are still sexy, but the uptick in BB% suggests a pitcher who's still trying to refine his command.

He was still pretty good at keeping the ball on the ground with a 46.8 GB%, but his HR/FB jumped to 18.8% HR/FB on the flies he allowed. Indianapolis was also a pitcher's park from 2017-19 with a 70 HR factor, though Triple-A park factors are weird due to the funny ball they used in 2019. Contreras probably had some good fortune in his .222 BABIP and 85.9% strand rate too, especially considering the small sample.


Roansy Contreras in the Show

Contreras doesn't have a ton of big-league experience, but he did showcase impressive stuff as a reliever. His fastball hit 97 mph on the gun with 2,467 RPM of spin, ranking in the 94th percentile in both metrics this season. Opposing batters were helpless against it, swinging and missing at an absurd 17.7% clip.

Contreras throws a changeup as a show-me pitch, but his primary secondaries are his curve and slider. His curve didn't generate much swing-and-miss as a big leaguer, but its 75 GB% is a big part of why he's able to keep the ball on the ground and limit the long ball. The slider is Contreras's biggest strikeout weapon, logging a 37.5 SwStr% and 55.6% chase rate that makes the offering's Zone% of 25 perfectly palatable. With both the heater and slider looking like strong strikeout pitches, Contreras should continue to rack up his share of Ks as a starter.


What Is the Immediate Future for Roansy Contreras?

Contreras should strike out 27-30% of opposing batters with a walk rate of around 10%, giving him a solid foundation for success in the Show. This author is a little concerned that MLB hitters will send his HR/FB skyward, though PNC Park will continue his streak of calling pitcher-friendly parks home. The biggest obstacle to his fantasy value will likely be the team he plays for, as the Pirates stink. Last year's injury and the lack of a MiLB season in 2020 will likely lead to a strict innings limit this year as well

Contreras is a Champ in that he's somebody that should be rostered in nearly all formats, because the upside is that of a borderline ace and he's only rostered in 11% of Yahoo! leagues. However, that somebody isn't necessarily you. There is blow-up potential here, so he makes the most sense for teams in the middle of the pack looking to make things happen. Curating his matchups might also be a good idea. His first start of the season is at home vs. the Rockies, so that's a green light. His second would be at the Dodgers, so maybe skip that one.

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